Question: I have done spiritual research especially on Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy for several years and would like to clarify a few things. First, are there any similarities between Vaishnavism and Vaijirayana Buddhism? I started my spiritual path with Tibetan Buddhism and see similarities.
Answer: Vaishnavism is much older than Buddhism. It is rooted in the Vedas. So it cannot be derived from Buddhism. If there are some similarities, that may be a coincidence. All spiritual paths from the East have something in common. After all, they are all dealing with a metaphysical, trans-material subject.
Question: I want to understand why in Kaliyuga, Vaishnavism imposes the rules of Satyayuga (no meat, no intoxication, etc. etc.). In my study I found that the mahamantra is free of rules of purity.
Answer: Why do you think that no meat and no intoxication are Satyayuga rules and should not be imposed in Kaliyuga?
One of the basic principles of Vaishnavism is that a Vaishnava does not consume anything without first offering it to Vishnu. And Vishnu is neither a meat-eater nor likes intoxicants. He is param sattvika and thus only sattvika items are offered to him. Another basic principle of Vaishnavism is non-violence because all beings belong to Vishnu. These principles do not depend on any yuga. They are universal.
Question: If a person is weak, it may happen that an Ayurvedic doctor gives him meat to eat. Since Ayurveda is given by Vishnu, it must be allowed to eat it.
Answer: Ayurveda has medicines that may contain meat in it. But it is one’s own choice whether to take it or not. Everything comes from Vishnu, even poison. Ayurveda also describes various types of poison and their qualities. But that does not mean that one must take it. Ayurveda is a book of medical science and thus gives properties of even stool and urine. Vishnu has also given us buddhi to make decisions and discriminate what is good for oneself. Vaisnavas have their own scriptures like Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavata Purana, which are also coming from Vishnu. For a Vaishnava, if there is conflict between theses scriptures and any other book, such as Ayurveda, then the former takes precedence.
Question: What is the Tantra tradition in Gaudiya Vaishnavism, is there a process of awaken Kundalini to rise to the various chakras?
Answer: Tantra in Gaudiya Vaishnavism is called Satvat-tantra. It does not have the process of awakening Kundalini. It gives process of worship, mantra chanting, details about temple construction etc.
Tantra is of three types – Saiva, Sakta and Vaishnava. They are not all the same. You may have knowledge of Buddhist Tantra.
Question: So Vishnu is sattvic, but Krishna (the avatari) is beyond the gunas?
Answer: Vishnu is also beyond the gunas, but He is in charge of sattva, Brahma is in charge of rajas and Siva of tamas.
Question: Spiritual Life means to have predominantly sattva or balance sattva, rajas, and tamas in order to transcend them.
Answer: Sattva promotes proper understanding, rajas brings misconception and tamas ignorance about life. Therefore, sattva has importance.
Answer: That simply means that you have misunderstood Bhagavd Gita. Krishna is not promoting violence although most people think so. It is not easy to understand the Gita without a qualified teacher.
Question: About the origin of Vaishnavism, many Tibetan Buddhists believe that the Puranas were written after Buddhism came to India and that Bhagavad Gita is a synthesis.
Answer: Belief is one thing and truth may be different. Some Christians believe that all Puranas were written after Christ, and that bhakti in India is a product of Christianity. Buddhists cannot accept that something good existed before Buddha and in the same way Christians cannot think that people were civilized before Christ.
Question: The Vedas promote the worship of demigods and in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna disregards them, just as Buddha does. The same is indicated in Bhagavata Purana in the story of Govardhana.
Answer: If you want to understand the Vedas or the Gita, you need to study from an insider. An insider has one understanding and an outsider another. Unfortunately most of the work written on the Vedas is by outsiders. Indology has been hijacked by outsiders. Come to India and study from a traditional teacher. Then you will see another side of the Vedas and the Gita.
Question: I think Shakta Tantra (Kundalini etc.) is possible only in Advaita, because there jiva is one with Brahman, while in Vaishnavism, the jiva and Paramatman are different, or not?